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Family: Dog May Be Permanently Blind After Being Splashed With Ammonia

Neighbor Arrested; Admits To Keeping Ammonia But Says She Didn't Throw It
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A dog named Rocky may end up losing his eyesight, after a neighbor allegedly threw ammonia in his face in the Heartland Village section of Staten Island.

As CSB 2’s Cindy Hsu reported, Rocky is a 5-year-old English bulldog who loves to swim in his backyard pool. And that was what he was doing during a Father’s Day barbecue, when his owner, Frank Latino, said his next-door neighbor started banging pots and pans to lure Rocky through their adjoining fence.

“And she douses him through the fence,” Latino said.

He said a splash of ammonia came right through the slats on the fence and Rocky was injured.

“When he got hit in the face with the ammonia, he turned around, looked at us with his eyes closed, and he was like this, trying to get the ammonia out of his mouth,” Latino said.

The family called police and rushed Rocky to an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hospital. He had ulcers in both his eyes, but may suffer permanent loss of sight.

Irene Helale is the neighbor on the other side of the fence who was arrested that day. She has admitted putting ammonia on her patio to keep Rocky from jumping-up on the fence, but claimed Rocky and his family were nowhere to be seen when she did it.

“They weren’t in the yard, and I didn’t see a dog in the yard,” Helale said. “If I’d have seen the dog, I would never have done it.”

Helale said her family and Latino’s family have been close over the years. But she said things went downhill when Rocky kept barking, and scaring her husband who has heart issues.

Hsu asked Helale about the dog’s eye injuries.

“Maybe it went on the fence and it dripped. I don’t know,” Helale said. “I would never do that if the dog was there, I’m not an evil person, like I said.”

Rocky has a tough recovery ahead, but his family hoped he would be back in his pool splashing around within the next few weeks.

Helale was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and torturing and injuring animals, and if she is convicted, she could face up to two years in jail.

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